How to Love in 2021

gossiping or helping

bible story sketch of Good Samaritan
Good Samaritan story (Image by CCXpistiavos from Pixabay)

Ever have somebody tell you, “I was just thinking of you!” when you called them? Well what just happened there?

Maybe you have enough faith to believe in coincidences, but I don’t. Nothing in the physical world can explain it. It certainly seems as though a spiritual connection of some sort was prompting each of you. Ultimately, who cares how you explain it? Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when that happens? And it only takes one of you to respond to that prompting to make that communication complete. So what are you going to do about it?

If a name comes into my mind, I take that as my cue to pray for that person. How about the next time somebody’s name pops into your head, you actually do call them and ask how they are doing. Maybe this scenario will happen — great. Maybe it won’t — say, ‘Just thought I’d say, “hi” ‘, and move on with your day. In our age of technology, we have no excuse to not reach out to someone and tell them directly.

If you see some concerning post on Facebook, you have the choice to either start thinking bad thoughts about them, or to express your concerns and listen to them. Then you will know if that bad thing is actually the case, or not. Now you actually learned something — good for you!

Once you know something, you can help them to address the problem, if they are interested, and not just fume about it. And bad things start to happen to a brain when it starts dwelling out of control on something. (I’m sure you’ve experienced something like that in the middle of the night, at least once.) It becomes sour and attracts more negative thoughts. Dwell on it for long, and it becomes bitter. Bitterness can lead to giving yourself an ulcer or losing sleep, and definitely makes it harder to make new friends.

So as we enter a new year, do we want to get better with age or bitter? We talk about what is happening. What should happen, And we do it with or without the presence of the people involved. Which kind of talking do you usually do? Is it gossiping or helping the other person? What’s the difference between the two?

The missing ingredient in gossip is love. The difference is whether you are including them in your conversation or not.

“Including them?” you might say, “That would spoil all the fun!” Then maybe you need to re-think the good points and bad points of how you talk. If you say,” That’s way too hard, or not possible!” then read on.

Living a good life is very simple; just not that easy! Approaching one of the persons directly involved and reaching out in truth and love is indeed so much harder than just starting without him or her. Try including her in your circle. Make your talking circle somewhat like a 12-Step program — without judgement, accept anyone who comes to your attention and is willing. When you include her, you provide an outlet for the energy released in your words. What kind of energy do you want released?

Years ago, ‘tolerance’ became a buzzword. We should all be tolerant of others. Nonsense! Who wants to be tolerated? Not me, and I’m sure that’s not your preference, either. Love your neighbour, don’t tolerate him. Tolerance is good for governments, not individuals. I don’t need my government to love me; as long as they tolerate my rights, religion, lifestyle choices.

Love is patient, love is kind…. Maybe you’ve heard this Bible passage at a wedding ceremony. It goes on to say: love is not proud, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not envy, does not boast, does not dishonour others, always perseveres. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

I’ve always thought it interesting that this sentence counters evil, not with good, but with the truth. I suppose we can have different ideas of what is good, but we’re in a good place if we’re grounded in the truth. (A caveat, of course, would be truth said in a loving manner — see all those words listed above.)

So, this is a good test of whether we are being loving, or just bitchy. When I was speaking, was I doing any of those things? This is a way of asking myself: ‘Am I contributing to making the world a better place or not?’

Although this passage is often quoted at a wedding, it’s original meaning was a description of how we are to treat everybody, not just that special someone. At that wedding, after they pledge, “I do,” we pledge to help the couple through the richer or poorer, sickness and health parts. Whether or not we promised to be loving toward them at that specific ceremony, we can set that intention now. We can look at how we can be loving towards that couple who are our neighbours.

When asked by all the religious leaders of his time, what is the most important commandment, Jesus said’ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And immediately added, “And love your neighbour as yourself.”

We have all heard of the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus gave as a shocking example of a loving neighbour. When somebody has been mugged and left for dead on the side of the road, get him help that he needs as best you can, regardless of who he is. So, how can we love the married couple in our neighbourhood? Preferably, before they are in obvious trouble. (And if that couple in difficult waters is you, my previous blog may be helpful.)

In this time of pandemic, lockdowns, lack of paychecks, broken contact with friends, etc. it is easy for any of us to find people in our circle of friends and acquaintances who are desperately in need of some love. Some want to know that it’s even still out there.

’Tis, traditionally, the season of giving. Giving something of yourself. Not just giving money, that’s certainly the easiest way to start. But, even more valuable, is giving of yourself, your gifts, your time.

A big issue of great concern in our society right now is marginalized groups. You may be asking yourself, “How can I solve such a huge social problem?”

Here is my standard answer to that question. Well, you are an individual. Whenever you see another individual who appears to possibly be suffering emotionally, go and be loving towards that individual or couple who are your neighbours. And, I could add, don’t marginalize them the next time gossip about them starts.

I feel I need at this point to add a caveat that I am not suggesting that everybody go out there and be junior psychologists; just be a friend. Of course, you have to be gentle with them and accept them where they are at. It is helping a fellow traveller, only if you go at his speed, not dragging him along the trail.

Feed the hungry. If they are starving for love, not even getting it from each other anymore, don’t stuff a metaphorical 12 oz steak into their mouth. But, as a loving hostess, present small servings a little at a time in several courses of what they actually want. You may be able to see lots of things that need improving in their lives, but nobody can swallow the whole thing at once, only in bite-sized pieces. Also of course, this has to be done with whatever wisdom we can muster. If someone is starving for affection and starts to get some outside of their marriage relationship, that’s how affairs begin. And that wouldn’t be helping their relationship at all! I speak to couples together, or separately, (as I feel comfortable and necessary) always with my wife’s knowledge, and many times, her participation.

The more individuals who are doing this, the more it catches on, and after a while, the society changes, because it is now comprised of those people who are feeling loved. They have been helped by some Good Samaritan and are paying it forward.

Oh and by the way, if you are saying to yourself, “That takes too long!” just remember, love is patient. There is no short cut. I just want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

It is so easy to use hurtful words in social media. This year, the world needs more love, not less. In conclusion, let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Being aware of how we talk to someone. Something to aspire to in 2021, don’t you think?

With an education in neuroscience, psychology and theology and a career as a tech writer, I am now exploring how social issues and politics are affecting us.

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